Climate Change

France Tackles Climate Change

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 21, 2007

While Canada uses its huge federal surplus to dole out big tax cuts to corporations, France is tackling climate change.

Nature reports that France is establishing the following (reprinted in Grist if you don't have a Nature subscription):

  • All newly built homes to produce more energy than they consume by 2020. Renovate all existing buildings to save energy. Ban incandescent light bulbs by 2010. Reduce greenhouse-gas emission by 20 percent by 2020.

  • Increase renewable energy from 9 percent to 20-25 percent of total energy consumption by 2020.

  • Bring transport emissions back to 1990 levels. Reduce vehicle speed limits by 10 kilometres per hour. Taxes and incentives to favour clean cars. Shift half of haulage by road to rail and water within 15 years. Develop rail and public transport.

  • Reduce air pollutants quantitatively.

  • Create a national network of 'green' corridors and nature reserves.

  • Increase organic farming from 2 percent to 6 percent of total acreage production by 2010 and to 20 percent by 2020.

  • Ecological groups to be stakeholders, like trade unions, in government negotiations.

Lest you think this is just pie-in-the-sky legislating, the French government already has buy-in and commitment from a broad coalition of businesses, labour and environmental organizations.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 21, 2007 at 09:45:16

I see on problem already.... corporation/business buy in.

Also, trains are an issue for me. They're not regulated as strictly, at least here and actually are less efficient and produce more particulate matter than a truck with 2007 emission standards. Trains are only useful for long hauls with 25 or less containers since in cities, speeds are reduced drastically and longer than 25 containers requires more than one locomotive.

Also a study by the European Environmental Bureau in 2004 shows that although trucks emit more carbon dioxide than ships per ton per kilometer, ships produce significantly more particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2007 at 16:09:16

Frank, do your train-vs-truck efficiency calculations include:

-Maintenance of trains vs trucks (replacing truck tires for example) -Road repairs vs rail repairs -ploughing and other general road mainteenance -other secondary energy costs that I can't think of at the moment?

Not trying to argue, just double checking. There's more to the story than what comes out of the truck or locomotive's smokestacks.

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2007 at 17:00:42

FRance is also well ahead of the climate change issues with 59 nuclear power plants.

No hysterics, and the country is a net exporter of energy to other countries.

IS it the answer to tackling global warming? No, but it is part of the solution until less problematic by -products can be found.

I think we really missed the boat on Nuclear energy here.Too many hysterical types lobbying the previous liberal governments

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2007 at 17:07:18

Those big tax cuts to corporations I keep hearing about seem to be getting bigger.Surely by now the government is paying them to stay here no?

Keeping people unemployed by having corporations leave is also environmentaly freindly.

Unemployed people do not create nearly as much pollutants as those who do.WE should be laying off more and more people.Thats the answer.The air in Windsor is noticably cleaner since Ford has closed up shop.

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By Genghis (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2007 at 17:16:26

True Frank.

And Europe has a very dense network of rail systems.Its a start if this works though, but the quote about commitment form various groups may be a bit optimistic.

These are some of the groups grinding France to a halt as we speak who will not give up one "Red" cent of pension money.Anything that goes into a French pocket to remove a nickle will be met with resistance.Sounds more like one of those "feel good" announcements corporations and the Liberal governemt party put on web sites with green trees and blue skies to fool the public they are actually going to do something.

Lets hope they do it.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 12:19:11

Ryan, I meant corporate buy-in here would be difficult to get... It's hard enough to get companies to invest in scrubbers let alone more expensive methods.

Sean, I have no idea. I looked up the study and read it rather quickly. I'll look at it in more detail later and post an answer on here. Remember though that rail line maintenance is much more expensive, much more time consuming, no rail traffic can use the line while the maintenance is being performed. I'm talking mostly about impact to the environment since the entry is about green legislation, not necessarily cost of operation.
Ships and trains use heavier, less refined fuel oil which is why they produce more HC, NOx SO2 and PM. Some ships use a lighter machine oil mixture while in port but when steaming thru oceans and lakes they go back to the heavy stuff.

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